Tag Archives: GCC

This is Our Gulf: The Legacy of the Abu Musa and the Tunbs Dispute

Commentary by Bart Hesseling – 15 April 2012

Bahr-e Fars: A clear Iranian message on a football pitch in Abu Musa (source: Google Maps)

The recent visit by president Ahmadinejad of Iran to the disputed island of Abu Musa, the first by an Iranian head of state since Hashemi Rafsanjani in 1992, set off a storm of protest in the United Arab Emirates. The UAE recalled its ambassador from Tehran and even convened a special session of the GCC council of foreign ministers. The dispute over Abu Musa and the two Tunbs has become a symbol of Arab-Iranian enmity and, along with the occasional spats over the denomination of the Gulf (Arabian vs. Persian), provides a convenient way for both Iran and the Arab Gulf states to close ranks. Continue reading

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Qatar’s Trailblazing Diplomacy

Commentary by Bart Hesseling – 21 November 2011

Sheikh Hamad, right, and Prime Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem al-Thani at the Arab League summit, Damascus, March 2008 (© Hussein Malla/AP Images)

The incredible diplomatic activity of the tiny peninsula nation of Qatar heralds a major shift of power, as the old power brokers in the Middle East are either embroiled in revolutionary fervour or too nervous about upsetting the regional system, fragile as it is. Qatar has no such qualms and has thrown its full weight behind the forces of change. On the diplomatic front, after having pushed the Arab states into an unprecedented UN-backed coalition with NATO that proved crucial in ousting Qaddafi, Qatar is now spearheading the Arab League’s moves to put maximum pressure on the regime in Syria. Continue reading

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Filed under Arab Spring, English, Gulf states, Qatar

A War for Nothing? The Gloomy Aftermath of America’s Withdrawal from Iraq

Commentary by Riccardo Dugulin – 5 November 2011

The start of the Iraq war in 2003, with all the protests that it sparked, the diplomatic ballet that it unleashed, and the dictator that it toppled, is an event that marked a generation. Chances are that the end of the US military mission in Mesopotamia, marking the last stop of Washington’s second longest armed engagement to date, will not stir as much attention. Victory during WWII had its imagery and so did the US’s defeat in Vietnam. Iraq will most probably fade away. Moqtada Al Sadr promised that there won’t be any major attack on US troops while they are leaving Iraq. Aside from the incidental threat posed by Al Qaeda in the region, US servicemen and servicewomen should not expect any widespread violence as they prepare their drawdown after more than eight years of engagement. Continue reading

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Filed under English, Foreign Policy & IR, Gulf states, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia

Obama’s Speech: What Was Unsaid

Commentary by Tamer Mallat and Mélissa Rahmouni21 May 2011

Obama’s long overdue speech on the Arab Spring has provoked a series of mixed and muted reactions across the Arab world. For many, his outspoken remarks claiming that any Palestinian state must be created on the basis of the pre-1967 borders, were received as an encouraging sign that the US is upping the ante on Israel. President Obama’s clear embrace of non-violent and pro-democracy protests in addition to his condemnation of the brutal crackdowns in Bahrain, Syria, and Yemen, aimed to highlight America’s firm position that favors democratic reform. However, Obama continues to stop short of calling for regime change. By encouraging autocrats from Bahrain to Syria to undergo sincere reforms, Obama’s policy remains focused on ‘behavioral change’ over ‘regime change’. Obama’s silence on a number of issues betrays a possibly more sordid foreign policy shift. Not one word was directed at the developing state of affairs in Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Algeria and Morocco. Continue reading

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Filed under Algeria, Arab Spring, Bahrain, English, Foreign Policy & IR, Gulf states, Lebanon & Syria, Morocco